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Full text of "Address of Hon. T.W. Mason before the Ladies' Memorial Association at the laying of the corner-stone of the Confederate monument, Raleigh, N.C., May 20, 1895"

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From the Library of 
Hugh Talmage Lefler 

A gift of his sons 

Hugh Talmage Lefler, Jr. 


Charles Deems Lefler 

C P 970.76 / MU1 / c.U 









RALEIGH, N. C, MAY 20. 1895. 










RALEIGH, N. C, MAY 20, 1895. 




Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 


Mrs. Preside))! and Ladies of the Monumental Association, Veter- 
ans of the Confederacy, Ladies and Gentlemen : 

North Carolina bids us pause to-day aud consider the 
memory of her soldiers, those whom she gave to the Con- 

I know that you are busy with your affairs; that the 
demands of duty press upon you. I fear that disappointed 
hopes and failing fortunes may distress some of you; I am 
sure that the weight of years is now laid upon those who 
have survived their comrades. 

Repeating the message of our beloved State, I entreat 
you to come away from your cares and sorrows to-day, and 
let us stand, with hearts aglow, and with uplifted heads, in 
the presence of our heroic past. 

The day invites' us. It is our Independence Day. It is 
our day of glorious memories. Now, and through all the 
years to come, it is our Confederate Monument Day. For 
this day our mountains have given their fairest treasure 
into the hands of woman, and she has brought this treas- 
ure reverently into our midst. Our brothers have taken it 
gratefully from her hands and laid the stone in its place. 
We watch and wait with swelling hearts. Voices fall upon 
the ear again that have been still since our camp-fires went 
out. We feel the touch of elbows again ; our lines are form- 
ing; our ensigns stream above us; our bugles are calling. 
The stone which you have laid in its place to-day, my broth- 
ers, shall be lifted up ; and, by its side and from its summit, 
he shall look into our faces again, our comrade, our brother ; 
" bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh " ; brave as he 
who followed the Eagles of Rome, or the Lilies of France, 

our Confederate brother: he who was first at Bethel; he 
who was nearest the foe at Gettysburg; he whose rifle gave 
the last salute to the flag which was folded with immortal 

We have waited long enough to consecrate this stone. 
History approves and demands it. They who were our 
foes, but who are now our friends, ask that it be done. The 
passiug years have laid their hands, in blessing, upon the 
head of our comrade, and deepened the halo about his 
name. If the courage of the soldier, untainted b}' evil 
purpose, is the noblest gift of time; if the memory of Grant 
is sacred ; if the name of Lee is our priceless heritage, then 
have we waited long enough to dedicate this stone to the 
memory'of the North Carolina Confederate soldier. 

What moved him to leave his plow in the furrow that he 
might struggle, unto death, with his brother of the North? 
Was he not happy at home? Did he not love his wife and 
children ? Had. he not hewn from the forest his fruitful 
fields? Were not his barns filled with rich harvests? Had 
he no altars at which to worship? Had he no name or 
history to love and cherish ? Was he not taught to rever- 
ence the Constitution next to his Bible? Was he a dis- 
turber of the peace, a hater of his fellow-man ? Did not 
all the graces of a generous host adorn his fire-side? Did 
the sun, iu his course, shine upon a fairer land than his? 
What moved him to leave his hearth-stone and go forth, 
with darkened brow and compressed lip, to struggle and 
die ? 

We know that no lust of power, no worldly gain, no 
pride of life moved him. He was never an aggressor. His 
keen sense of what was due to himself made him careful 
of the rights of others. So careful was he, so regardful of 
his acts, so cautious in moving forward, so contented with 
the portion which God and his own right arm had given 

him that his neighbors bantered him tor his homely vir- 
tues, and likened him to the good-natured Dutchman who 
was said to have fallen into such peaceful repose that he slept 
until the stock of his fowling-piece crumbled with decay at 
his side. And yet, our good-natured, sleeping comrade 
suddenly awoke to such deeds of valor that "the world 
wondered," and declared that he must take his place with 
heroes, while his neighbors were happy to share the glory 
of his deeds. 

What moved this peace-loving. God-fearing, coutented 
man; happy within the shadow of the vine that climbed 
about his cottage door, to go forth against his brother of the 
North? Let a true answer be given. Let it not be said, 
that in a moment of unreasoning haste, he tore asunder 
the ties of home and kindled and rushed, like a madman, 
upon the sword of his adversary. Mis four years of hard 
endurance gives higher meaning to his courage. Rather, 
let it be said of him that he loved the union of these States. 
The blood which flowed in his veins, unmixed with alloy, 
had warmed the hearts of the men who struck the first 
blow for independence. In the county of Alamance, hard 
by the old stage-road that leads from Hillsboro to Salisbury, 
a stone has been planted, and on it are engraved these 
words: "First battle of the Revolution. Here was fought 
the battle of Alamance, the loth of May, 1771, between 
the British and the Regulators." Here, by this stone, was 
poured out the first libation to American independence. 
Four years thereafter, on the 20th of May. 1775, the listen- 
ing ear of North Carolina heard the cry that the men of 
Massachusetts had been slain at Lexington. And no more, 
save from hostile camps, did the ensign of Britain wave 
over her soil. Then, it was enough for her to know that 
the invader's foot was upon the soil of a sister State. Can 
the sous of Massachusetts ever forget how the battle-cry of 


Lexington was answered? Can they ever forget how they 
and the sons of North Carolina locked their shields until 
King George, on the 20th day of January, 1783, calling 
each one of them by name, treating with each one of them, 
declared these States '■ to be free, sovereign and independ- 
ent?' 5 

Let it he said of our comrade, that he loved the Union, 
but let it also be said of him, his proud lineage taught him 
that his own beloved State and her sister States were sov- 
ereigns. He remembered how those whose name he bore 
had refused to enter the Union, under the Constitution, 
until the sovereignty of North Carolina and the liberties of 
her citizens had been assured. In all the years of peace, 
while he tilled his fields and reared his children, he had 
been taught to guard this treasure committed to him with 
that supreme devotion with which the sons of Israel guarded 
the walls about their sacred city. In all these years of 
peace he rejoiced in the strength and glory of the Union as 
it broadened towards the setting sun. By the fire-side he 
had heard his sire tell of 1812, and of Lundy's Lane, and 
how he marched against the Indians with the warrior Jack- 
son, whom North Carolina gave, with many other noble 
gifts, to her fair daughter beyond the mountains. He, him- 
self, had marched with the Star-spangled banner and 
cheered it as it waved in triumph over the halls of the 

Let it be said of him that he loved the Union, that he 
loved the carts of peace, that he loved repose, but let it also 
be said of him, his repose was never so profound that the 
tramp of the advancing host failed to arouse him. 

In 1861, as in 1775, his sensitive ear caught the first 
foot-fall of the foe upon the soil of the State that holds the 
ashes of Washington. It was enough. The plow stood 
still in the furrow, the trembling wife held to his breast his 

first-born, the unuttered good-bye was said with quivering- 
lips and straining eves, the door of his home closed behind 
him, and he went forth to battle. By his side, through all 
the fiery struggle, be it said, was one whose love for him 
was as the love of Jonathan for David, giving him strength 
and comfort, caring for the stricken ones whom he had left 
behind, guarding the honor of the cause for which he bled, 
and when all seemed lost save honor, leading him, by wise 
counsels, away from the sorrows of war to the victories of 
peace. We would that this one were with us to-day! How 
our hearts would burn* within us to hear his voice, and look 
into his face again! But he sleeps well where we have laid 
him, with our love for him as lasting as the mountains that 
guard his resting-place— our great war Governor and leader, 
but, as we tenderly think of him now, our comrade and 
brother, Vance! 

Tt was strange and terrible to see these men of the South 
and of the North shed each other's blood. They spoke the 
same language, they worshiped at the same altars, they 
had been school-boys together, they had shouted together 
in the .-hock of battle, and together they had filled the 
world with their victories of peace. No ray of light touched 
the glory of' their country that did not fall, with its bene- 
diction, upon them both. And yet, above the contentions 
of the White and Red Hose, of Cavalier and Roundhead, 
of Bourbon and Jacobin, there was a solemn grandeur in 
their struggle Can the Union live by force? The North 
answered yes: the South answered no. And this moment- 
ous question of government was to be settled in the storm v 
comitia of arms. Each thought he had " his quarrel just," 
and thus, thrice-armed, they strove. Two millions of the 
men of the North stood to arms; six hundred thousand of 
the men of the South stood to arms. How grandly they 
strove, shaking the ocean with the tramp of monitor and 

ram, and teaching new warfare to the nations of the earth.' 
How they strove, while the storm of battle howled up the 
valleys, and over the mountains, and across the plains, 
shrieking and hissing into the ear of the pale wife as she 
knelt by the bedside of her children and prayed for the 
husband, against whose breast the pitiless storm was beat- 
ing! How they strove, while their flocks and harvests per- 
ished, and their homes grew desolate, and want and hunger 
came, and through the dreary watches of the night the 
widowed mother sat looking, with wan and weary face, 
upon the dying child in her arms, while the currents of its 
life ran dry in her aching breast! Brave women of our 
land, what tongue can tell your devotion ! There was no 
soldier's arm you did not nerve ; there was no soldier's 
couch of suffering you did not pillow with your gentle 
hands ; there is no soldier's grave your love has left unblest! 

If history shall say of these men of the South and of the 
North that they sinned in going to battle against each 
other, it will be sure to say also, that their rich offering of 
blood has opened wide the everlasting mansions of glor\ T 
for the cause each fought for. 

How did our comrade bear himself in this supreme test 
of virtue? Let us follow his shining lance, and see the 
grim face of war radiant with the sublime courage of the 
soldier. History startles us with its record: a military pop- 
ulation of one hundred an-d fifteen thousand men ; an army 
of one hundred and twenty-five thousand men ! In all 
the annals of the earth is there a nobler record of heroic 

Let us follow our brothers as they pour over the James, 
thirty thousand of them, in the June days of 1862, encir- 
cling Richmond with their dark gray lines, near one-third 
of those who had gathered for its defense; standing with 
their faces to the North, waiting for the struggle of the 

Seven Days to begin; waiting for Jackson, the eagle of the 
army, to swoop down from the mountain; waiting for Lee 
to speak, whose voice in battle was, to them, from that day 
forward, as the voice of a god; and when he told them to 
go forward, see how they and their comrades twist McClel- 
lan's army, with their stern grapple, back and forth across 
the Chickahominy, striking him blows of iron, day in and 
day out, until sore and weary, as the day closed upon the 
field of Gaine's Mill, he sat down and wrote to his govern- 
ment that he was beaten, and that his only hope was to 
escape from his fierce pursuers; and, five days thereafter 
Lee rode back from Malvern Hill praising his soldiers and 
regretting that he had not captured the Union army. See 
how they go, on the morning of the 17th of September, 
1862, double-quicking from the right to the bloody left, at 
Sharpsburg, sweeping proudly into line, and staying, like a 
wall of granite, the torrent of battle, as it comes rushing in 
over the dead bodies of Hood's brave Texans; see how the 
foe recoils from the deadly blast of their rifles; see how 
they drive him back, with yells of defiance, restoring our 
lines, and standing in their ranks through the da"y, and 
through another day, as firmly as the solid earth beneath 
them. Read the record of their daring at Chancellorsville, 
the death-bed of Jackson, in the early May days of 1863: 
One hundred and thirty-one Confederate regiments under 
fire — twenty-five of them from North Carolina; ten thou- 
sand two hundred and eighty-one Confederates killed and 
wounded — two thousand nine hundred and forty-eight of 
them from North Carolina. See how they wave their torn 
battle-flags above the crest of the struggle at Gettysburg, as 
it moves along its track of death, up the slopes of Cemetery 
Hill, surging forward with the throbbing of their hearts: 
and when the fateful storm is over, where the crest of the 
battle rose highest, there lies our comrade bv the side of him 


of the North, whom the peace of death has made again his 
brother. As we look into their faces, side by side, the one- 
clad in gray, the other in blue, each aglow with the spirit 
that has brought them thus together to the open portals of 
immortality, can we say of either that he has sinned ? Shall 
we follow our brothers as they hold in check the unbend- 
ing will and mighty forces of Grant, through the fire and 
smoke of the Wilderness, in the trenches at Petersburg, 
along the sullen retreat until the end came, and Lee bade 
them adieu, with his blessing, which has followed them, and 
made them, like him. patieut and heroic in peace as they 
were great in war ''. 

Shall we measure the glory of our comrade by the treas- 
ure of his blood? Then read this record: Fifty-two thou- 
sand uiue "hundred and fifty-tour Confederates killed in bat- 
tle — fourteen thousand five hundred and twenty-two of them 
from North Carolina; twenty-one thousand five hundred 
and seventy Confederates died of wounds — five thousand 
one hundred and fifty-one of them from North Carolina ; 
fifty-nine thousand two hundred and ninety-seven Confed- 
erates died of disease — twenty thousand six hundred and 
two of them from North Carolina. Forty thousand two 
hundred and seventy-five sons of North Carolina gave their 
lives to the Confederacy — more than one-third of her mili- 
tary population : nineteen thousand six hundred and sev- 
enty-three of her sous were killed in battle or died of 
wounds— more than seven teeu per cent, of her military pop- 
ulation — while the average loss of the Confederate armies 
was ten per cent, and of the Union armies five per cent, 
Read this record of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regi- 
ment of Pettigrew's Brigade at Gettysburg, the conflict of 
the century : It carried into action over eight hundred men : 
eisrhtv of them were left; and historv has declared ''this 
loss of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina at Gettysburg was 


the severest regimental loss during the war," in which seven 
hundred and sixty-four Confederate regiments and two 
thousand and forty-seven Union regiments were engaged. 
Read the thrilling story of Captain Tuttle's company on 
the same field of death, that lost all its officers and eighty- 
three out of eighty-four of its men killed and wounded, 
and of Captain Bird's Company C, of the Eleventh North 
Carolina, of this same noble brigade, that lost two of its 
officers and thirty-four out of thirty-eight of its men killed 
and wounded in the engagements of the first two days, 
and these four who remained took their places in the his- 
toric charge of the third of July ; and when his flag-bearer 
was shot down " the captain brought out the flag himself." 

Near the town of Winchester, in Virginia, they set apart 
a soldier's resting-place, after peace had come, and when 
those of our sister State, who loved the memory of the 
brave, had brought thither the soldiers of the Confederacy 
who had fallen near their homes, lo! the dead of North 
Carolina held so large a space among their comrades of 
other States that this silent witness moved their hearts to 
reverence, and they sent here for our beloved comrade, 
Vance, to come and speak to them of these men whose 
noble dust gave honor to the soil of Virginia. 

Shall we say of the Confederate soldier that he died in 
vain? Shall we say of his mighty struggle that it has no 
higher meaning than defeat? Shall we stand above his 
grave and declare that all was lost but honor? From the 
smoking altar of his sacrifice is there no incense to virtue? 
Does the world bless him. only, who wears a crown of lau- 
rel ? Is there no beauty on the brow that wears a crown of 
thorns? Were the oracles of God lost to men when His cho- 
sen people passed under the yoke of Rome? Were the laws 
and language of Rome lost to the world when the Goth 
struck down her eagles? Was Cromwell lost to Britain 
when the Stuart came back to her throne ? 


The Confederate soldier lias not died in vain. History 
will tell the story of his death and passion, that men may 
be lifted up by the example of his devotion to the memory 
of his fathers. If they did not die in vain who fell at 
Moore's Creek Bridge, at King's Mountain, at Guilford, at 
Germantown, at Brandy wine, at Princeton, then their sons 
did not die in vain who fell at Bethel, at Manassas, at Rich- 
mond, at Sharpsburg, at Fredericksburg, at Chancellors- 
ville, at Gettysburg, and on every field, where they sealed, 
with their blood the covenant made with their fathers that 
this should be a Union of sovereign States, with a govern- 
ment of express powers, limited by the letter of the writ- 
ten compact. For this covenant they died. That no sin- 
ful hand might be laid upon it, they took up arms. That 
no jot or tittle of it might fail, they drew the sword. The 
cause 'for which they died is not the lost cause of a dead 
Confederacy, but it is the vital cause of a living Union, its 
soul and strength, its only hope of future life, and without 
which it will dissolve and pass away like the smile of a 
dream upon the wrinkled face of time. 

The Confederate soldier has not died in vain. The les- 
son he has left us is the only lesson that can save the life 
of our Union. When history shall call the names of those 
who have been truest to their trust in the ranks of war the 
men of the gray uniform will answer to their names and 
take their places in the world's Legion of Honor. 

My brothers, the memory of your comrade will not fade. 
In the twilight of the years to come it will be as the luminous 
star which led the Eastern worshippers, where a new Life had 
come to abide among men long enough to teach them how 
to live like heroes and die like martyrs. The daughters of 
North Carolina will point our children and our children's 
children to that star. They will never turn their faces 
from the Confederate soldier. They gave you your battle- 


flags wet with the dew of their tears, and in that sign and 
with their prayers yon made the name of North Carolina 
noble. With each returning spring-time the grave of your 
comrade blooms out afresh as they lay their hands upon it- 
To-day they have embalmed his memory in stone. They 
have given you this token of their love, that shall not fail. 
Let us lift up this token of their love, my brothers ! The 
light of the morning will bless it, the glory of the evening 
will hallow it, the patient stars will watch over it, and the 
calm face of our comrade will teach us courage for to-day 
and hope for the morrow. 

Ye men who wore the gray, you who have been brave in 
peace as you have been strong in war. You have lifted 
North Carolina up, in your arms and made her as true to 
■our Union as the bride is true to her marriage vows. By 
your patience, peace and order and hope are ours. Else- 
where in our Union there is trouble. Social disorder vexes 
the soul of the patriot, and the cry of distress pains the 
heart of him who loves his fellow-man. Teach others the 
lesson of your patience. Teach them to right the wrong, 
as you have done, by the wisdom of the law, and the purity 
of its administration. Teach them to be true, each to his 
sovereign State, as you are true to North Carolina. And 
by this shrine, which her daughters have consecrated with 
their love, let us to-day renew our vows to our Sovereign 
Queen, the brightest jewel in whose crown is the memory 
of her soldiers whom she gave to the Confederacy. 



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